Patrick Vieira’s latest outburst against Manchester United and their re-signing of the retired Paul Scholes is nothing short of ironic—perhaps even a little laughable.
The former Arsenal midfielder and captain has taken up a position ‘upstairs’ at the Etihad and, much like during his title-duelling days at Arsenal with United, Vieira has stoked the fires and singled-out the move for Scholes midway through the season as a sign of weakness and a lack of quality in youth.
Possibly a move that could have greatly back-fired, Paul Scholes has shown that even after his short retirement he still has enough in the locker to compete at the very highest level. The United midfield has come under criticism for much of the campaign with an obvious lack of a playmaker in the setup, but the re-introduction of Scholes has been a hugely positive move by Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s no shame in bringing in a veteran and utilising his experience in title run-ins on a young United side who need to continue the traditions of the club.
It’s a safe move, one that adds nothing significant to the expenditure of the season, and, where calls for Wesley Sneijder or a player of the ilk were still in the foreground, Scholes represents a much safer option and one who does not need to acclimatise to the Premier League.
Maybe Vieira should be mindful of the fact his side is splashing out heavily every season and could fall foul or the Financial Fair Play. Or what about the decision by the club to not only sign him last season, but also to bring in Owen Hargreaves—a player who has had no significant period on a football pitch for two seasons. Those moves were obviously based around both the experience Vieira brought in as well as the lack of a transfer fee on Hargreaves, so where is the problem in United doing the same?
There were very few fingers pointed at Arsenal from the former Gunners captain when his old side brought in Thierry Henry on loan, or even the signings of Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann for half a season. And, in a similar way, aren’t City showing a weakness by having to re-introduce Carlos Tevez back into the squad? A player who refused to comply with his manager’s wishes and a someone who spent much of the season on a golf course vowing never to return to Manchester. Where’s the depth in the City reserves if they have to call upon Tevez?
For a club who Vieira claims are so weak and will struggle to cope in the future without a strong youth line-up following the departure of Ravel Morrison and the Paul Pogba contract negotiations, surely City and all their riches should be a little concerned, if not embarrassed, that they’ve surrendered their position at the top of the Premier League table to a team who brought in a retired footballer.
The lack of spark in the United midfield is well-documented, as is the number of targets reportedly on Alex Ferguson’s radar. What is difficult, however, is to make significant moves in the winter transfer window when other clubs are reluctant to sell their star players. Christian Eriksen, Nicolas Gaitan and perhaps even Nuri Sahin could be available in the summer, with United sure to be at the front of the queue. But for now, the introduction of Scholes has proved to be a smart move, and one that could provide the catalyst for United to go on a retain their Premier League title. Even with their much discussed weak squad.
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